I'm making a dinning room table with a fairly substantial oak top
(40"x66"). I've run into a snag. I've milled all of the boards, and
was unable to face joint the boards because I did not think my jointer
was up to the task. I made so many passes through the planner, and
the boards seemed reasonable straight to begin with. Now I've got the
boards thicknessed to the dimension that I want (so I can't joint them
any more!) but the boards are variously cupped and bowed just a bit
more than I'm comfortable with. IF I glue them up now, I think I'll
get a wavy mess. I was thinking of simply cleating them from below,
but am wondering about the disadvantages of such an approach. Would I
have to leave significant space between the boards if they are screwed
to a cleat? Is there any way to salvage this operation and continue
they may seem straight but what you really want is parallel. Cleating from
the bottom may work in the short run but, IMHO, you're sure to have problems
down the road.
You probably don't want to start over although that's the real way to go so
maybe you could put it together and then use a combination of hand planing
and sanding to level the top. FWW had a good article on flattening a
tabletop just recently.
How about cleating from below, and then rounting a channel between all the
pieces then glueing strips into the channels. This can look attractive, if
you use a contrasting wood. I love the look of e.g., oak and black walnut.
This can look like an intended design feature vs a "recovery".
If you glue them as-is, you will get the wavy mess. The only way to fix the
wave would be finding a local woodmill with a very large sanding machine,
but then you will loose thickness and spend some money.
If you inlay wood across the grain it will come out or will split. I can
almost guarantee it. I have glued up wavy boards before. I have more success
with dense strong woods. I use clamps to flatten them as the glue dries.
There is no guarantee that when you finish you will have a flat top.
I had a large drum sander and could run the glued up top through it to clean
it. I guess I learned along time ago to leave the stock as thick as you can
at glue up so that you can take care of issues such as these.
On 12 Nov 2004 17:53:19 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug) calmly
Cupped AND bowed? Then they won't work as a flat tabletop surface,
Doug. The bow will cause splits if you force it together & glue it.
Cupped boards may flatten out a bit with cleats, but probably not
enough. Buy new stock or keep working it until it's flat and straight.
Then determine if it's still OK for use as a tabletop.
What kind of support/legs are you planning on using?
(BTW, it's "dining" and "planer".)
Put the same number of coats of finish on all sides, especially the
top and bottom. Cleats are fine, but glue the boards together and use
elongated holes in the cleats. Lee Valley sells expansion washers for
that purpose. www.leevalley.com Item # 50K35.01
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CLeating simply requires that the center screw through the cleat goes
through an appropriately drilled hole. The screws holding the cleat on
either side of the center screw go through slotted holes so they hold
the top down but still allow the wood to move side to side out from the
On 12 Nov 2004 17:53:19 -0800, email@example.com (Doug) wrote:
It would probably be best if you start from scratch with some new
wood. However, if the pieces you have a particularly nice grain or
some other reason you want to keep this particular batch of wood
(other than being penny wise and time foolish) then you might be able
to use these. To salvage this you need to meet two conditions:
You have a good, sharp, smoothing plane and the ends of the table top
are finished breadboard style.
Glue up the pieces so the two outside pieces curve downward. This
will ensure that the outside edges remain full thickness. Once you
have the top glued up then use the plane to flatten the top. After
you put on the breadboard ends, which are also full thickness, the top
will look to be uniform thickness. The underside will look
'interesting' but that can be your secret or a good conversation topic
after someone drops their fork and sees the underside...
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